Underbank Rangers player-coach Richard Knight went over twice and assisted one as the champions proved too strong for Coventry Bears with a convincing 14 – 30 win.
also scored for the Holmfirth-outfit before Jay Senior notched his eighth try of the campaign.
Both teams exhibited some dazzling rugby at times, but it was the Rangers who eventually prevailed and retained their position at the top of the table despite some key absences.
Coventry tries from Tom Tsang, Ross Bayston and Steve Coleman were not enough to prevent their visitors from picking up a fourth straight win in the National Conference League, Division III.
Assistant coach Matt Larder was proud of Bank’s explosive start and of the improvements made from last week’s unimpressive display.
He said: “We worked really hard and we set off like a house on fire. Then they toughed it up but we managed to match them and were the better team in the end.
“We dropped the ball from the kick off, but the way we reacted to that was absolutely fantastic and when we got the ball we kept it, completed it and we kept to the game plan and we were making yards and scoring some good tries as well.”
Larder was keen to express that reclaiming the title would not be too big a task if Bank repeated the determination and good rugby they flaunted in taming the Bears.
“This was a step up from last week, and we obviously have got to be one of the favourites now. Not many teams will go to Coventry and win, but we have got to keep our composure and we have just got to keep completing sets and bettering our defence which we did today.”
Bank presented all the qualities of champions as they led the hosts 10 – 18 at they break before sealing the victory just after the hour and becoming the first team to topple the Bears this season.
It was advantage Coventry at the start as Neil Barrett
knocked on from the kick and presented the home side with the perfect chance to assert themselves in the game.
But it was a combination of ruthless defending and clinical attacking from the northern side that prevented the midlands outfit from getting over the line before Rangers struck first.
Bank’s overseas star Nick Briggs enjoyed a 40 yard break that got Rangers on the front foot. The Aussie came close before managing to work the ball to Knight who was able to step through and touch down. Neil Barrett
converted from wide right.
was becoming too much to handle and his mazy run through the centre released captain Lee St Hilaire who stormed 30 yards to gain field position. Some quick play involving Will Midgley
and Barrett saw the ball worked to Sam Coyne
who crashed over to establish a strong lead after the first quarter.
The Bears responded brilliantly, and some quick thinking from Tsang allowed him to scoot down the blind side after Rob Joyce
’s knock and put the hosts back in the mix.
Underbank coach Knight proved inspirational again as two minutes after being grounded with a serious head injury he released St Hilaire to score with a stab kick that pierced the defence.
Coventry piled on the pressure before the break and Bayston used his strength to power through a crowd of claret and gold shirts and crash over beneath the sticks with Coleman adding the extras.
The Bears started the second half the brighter but an impressive solo effort from Senior relieved any pressure as he surged 40 metres at speed to score.
Coleman was at hand to prevent the game going out of reach as he latched on to Harnish Locke’s cross field ball. However, Knight killed the game as he raced on to Barrett’s impressive inside ball to finish by the posts. Barrett made it five out of five with the kick.
That was to be the last of the action for Knight as a major concussion saw him leave the field with ten minutes remaining, but Bank’s defence proved stern once again as they were not to be denied.